Scholars of Novia
Hello, I’m AvatarAcid. I’m the InsaneMembrane. The above image was created by myself and tweeted out on March 8th 2013. I had been following Richard Garriott’s UltimateRPG countdown and the information around it for some time with great anticipation. You see I am quite a large fan of the Ultima Series, and always will be, and all through my childhood I could rely on the Ultima Series to provide me with new challenges and adventures. Ultima provided a chance to bond with family and friends, enjoy a great story, and challenge my younger self to think about some of the moral issues the game presented me with through Richard’s wily ways. Then in March 2013 Ultima was coming back. One UltimateRPG to rule them all!
Back then the concept of Shroud of the Avatar was still pretty much a Single Player game with very limited Multi Player options and an allowance for dynamic content, like having the same housing and crafted items across all instances of the game. The game instances were also to be hosted on individual PCs spread across as many geographical locations as there were groups of 12-50 players, which would have greatly benefited me where I am living today due to infrastructure limitations on the internet. Having a unique and rare experience that I could enjoy myself and happily share with others also, a decent way to tackle lag due to living in the internet pits of the world, and it was a brand new Ultima successor – Couldn’t be happier! So happy that I jumped in with a Citizen pledge early on which was around ten times more than I had ever spent on any game in my life of buying games for myself. Later I upgraded to Knight and now fifteen times more than I’d ever paid, and while I know that is a big thing to me it is just a drop in the sea when compared to those of you who have spent tens of thousands.
It was good for a while, but I started to notice a few pretty boisterous personalities starting to push for things early on. Ultima Online things, MultiPlayer, and MMO things. On top of that, some of the users were putting forward further processes which outlined goals to segregate community so some could rise above others based on the price point in which they themselves elected to pay for the game. At the same time several really unsavoury personalities started to arise also both in IRC and on the Forum which carried with them more than a hint of racism as well as harassment. Some even openly so! At first these things were properly reported by myself and others. Yet nothing was done and in fact some of the people whom pushed back were on the opposite side from the SotA moderators, since yes, more than one of the Moderators were persons of interest when it came to some of the issues above like racism and harassment.
The big cratering came for me came in an incident where Owain had told moderator UltimaCodex(WtF Dragon) that he can’t have an opinion. I would bet good money nobody out there, not even some of the people involved in creating the Ultima Series, know as much about Ultima as WtF Dragon and the Ultima Codex site contributors do. I had always followed Ultima Aiera then the UC and appreciated all the work they put in to keep the Ultima Series legacy alive and well. WtF Dragon has the right to his opinion and it matters not what his status in the community is and that goes for everyone else in the community as well, yet that sentiment was not seemingly accepted or encouraged. I chimed in and told Owain he could “GTFO” if he didn’t like that someone else had an opinion.
WtF being a moderator correctly informed me that speaking like that is probably going a bit too far which told me all I needed to know, and that is that the most powerful and in your face voices had already gained a beachhead in the community. This problem wasn’t going to be solved without help, but what could I do about it? Should I speak out as AvatarAcid and have my ass handed to me with my account hanging over my head if they decided to ban me? Mind you nothing quite like that had just yet happened to my knowledge but I could still envision it taking place due to how everything was starting to shape up there, the writing was on the wall. Why should I risk my account which was now linked to a thousand dollar donation in order to deal with things that already shouldn’t have been allowed to establish prominence there?
It soon became more. The game development was going astray, forum personalities including moderators were insulting and driving out the typically quiet and more non-aggressive people like me(usually!) to the point where even Developers fear posting, telling them they are useless and stupid, and then there is the question I still ask myself now; What is Shroud of the Avatar actually trying to be and how do I get my feedback out in an environment as confrontational and unguided as that which exists on the Shroud of the Avatar forum? Well I did exactly the same thing Richard Garriott did with the Avatar and created a schism in my personality, my own little personal Guardian! Meet the InsaneMembrane.
I decided to fight fire with fire and parody myself in the situation with positions which would otherwise be mutually exclusive with AvatarAcid’s. People wanted to argue from a point of privilege? PKs want to turn SotA away from an epic single player tale and into a giant MMO UO2 where they camp gathering sites? Moderators not calling nor taking care of obvious rotten apples? That is a job for the InsaneMembrane! Carving up pledges into Founder and Royal Founders, water lot restrictions, Player Owned Towns, unlimited instanced POTs, death of the Dev+ forum and all promises that come with, failing at combat and dumping it, Devs lowering themselves to InsaneMembrane’s level and abusing people on steam…after they ask for positive reviews to be instituted. Madness! There is much more, the one that hit home the most for me was ending the croudsource efforts before I could even get into it. I wanted to do more than just pay for this game, I wanted to HELP it succeed. I was told I could, so what happened to that sentiment and why could I now not? Well InsaneMembrane jumped in and tried to tackle these hard issues and I would like to think he, or I, or we did so not just with the self in mind, but with the rest of the community in mind also. Only InsaneMembrane could do this because InsaneMembrane was unknown and had no leg in the game, nothing to lose to try and get to the source of all these problems and perhaps get some answers. What I didn’t ever expect to happen though was that as time went on and more and more things came out of the woodwork, something else came into the spotlight… Portalarium itself.
I learned through Richard Garriott and Ultima both, you need to challenge yourself, challenge others, to push the envelope! And so I did. That said, I always try to keep to comments related to stuff taking place on the forum and other social media sites directly linked to SotA. I haven’t ever gone after anyone’s personal life or sought out information other than that unless was related to Ultima/SotA community in some way.
At first the warnings and bans to the InsaneMembrane account were cute. But it became clear at some point, probably right around the InsaneMembrane account getting perma-banned for the second time(lul) for pointing out leaks in the Dev+ forum, that I could no longer just blame the community personalities and moderators themselves. Why weren’t the mods moderating the forum properly? Who is looking after the moderators themselves? What policy does that person have and where did they even get it from? My comedy and opinion then turned towards Portalarium and the Devs. Most of whom on a personal level I think are great by the way so I was conflicted about even having to go down this path! But a spade is a spade and business is business, if InsaneMembrane was going to continue on the logical path of finding all Insanity and calling it out, he would need to address the core of these issues. If you aren’t upsetting some people, you aren’t really being brave. If everyone likes you, then you have never said anything true, anytime you speak the truth someone’s going to hate you.
This continued for some time and for the longest time I felt pretty alone in doing this. Statistics sure told me that people were reading here, but I didn’t know who they were a lot of the time or what they thought. Eventually comments started to come in though and I was certainly not alone. The Shroud Unlimited Forum was created by suggestion of a commenter to facilitate even more conversation with the Orphans of Shroud. More and more information was then exchanged and noticed by the many more eyes that were now on the SotA forum personalities and Developer team. Some of them, really, really, didn’t like it this.
Some of them really didn’t like it to the point of committing serious crimes to get at me, going above and beyond the call of duty. To the best of my knowledge on or around August 22nd 2015 someone paid to gather information about me and my family and began sending it to people that InsaneMembrane has “insulted.” I know of at least three people who have seen this information now and one of them indicated it was being “put out there to certain folks” and with the amount of people InsaneMembrane has parodied, you can bet there is more! This included everything from my name, my spouse’s name, our kids names, addresses, work places, phone numbers, passport numbers. I was away for the weekend and at first I pulled back to think, then after about a month of reflection I came to the conclusion that I would sell my Shroud of the Avatar account for whatever I could get for it.
Just to point one very simple thing out here now; some people say that I have been the most toxic asshole to have ever graced SotA’s sphere of influence, yet I have never and would never do anything like that to someone. But one of you in the Shroud of the Avatar community would and did, so ponder that one for a moment everyone and be warned when dealing with what is left of the Shroud of the Avatar “community” under Portalarium’s “guidance,” especially if you are posting on social media with your personal accounts. They came for me, they will come for you too.
Why did I wait until someone started to conduct personal harassment against my family to sell? Why did I put as much money in to community related projects by community members as I did into SotA itself? My love for Ultima and for those who love Ultima, and what Shroud of the Avatar could have become got the best of me. So much so that I felt the need to create the InsaneMembrane to defend the Honour of Ultima in only a way that InsaneMembrane could. But it had become very costly and too costly for many reasons; Too costly personally, through threats to my family. Too costly to play, everything you can think of is being added to the add-on store and I think a grand should have been enough to buy me some nice frigging clothes right? Too costly not to play, the game has been two years+ now and still being derailed by projects never intended to be included in the MMO it has now become, there really is no game(not that I know what kind of game it is or will be any more anyway). This… Is not the UltimateRPG that I dreamt of and it is too rich for my blood on every front. I could have spent thousands on this game also, but apparently I spotted things that others didn’t early on and it saved me a lot of money. I fold.
Not all the way out though, for like many, many, others I was silly enough to try and connect Steam to SotA and now I’m stuck with the $45 Adventurer Pledge. So it looks like I will still be able to jump in and test things out from time to time if I ever break a leg and get holed up for a month or something. Dumping the RF account is a big load off and I thank the community member who purchased it for almost what I paid for it. I still do hope Shroud of the Avatar will succeed but I really can’t understand or see how it possibly could live up to the UltimateRPG I dreamed Richard Garriott was going to produce. At this point I am not even sure if Richard Garriott is even going to like the end product, it is so far from what he described initially!
InsaneMembrane isn’t going anywhere for the moment. My blog will still be up, I will keep posting updates. Shroud Unlimited Forum will still be up and I will be there to provide a place for EVERYONE to come and talk candidly about Shroud of the Avatar and anything else on your mind while you’re there.
Like, so, there are these things called The Order of New Britannia Empire and Royal Warrants. The concept is that if you are part of the Shroud of the Avatar community and you contribute, something, in a significant way then you will be rewarded with one of these. This is not too bad in concept, and truthfully I am quite envious of those who do receive it knowing that I shalt never receive one. Even in my true persona, let alone this one 😛 But hey, I made my choice and I’m walking the road as a highwayman because there has been a need. Don’t cry for me Britannia.
But you know me, I can’t just stop there now can I mofos? So what is the malfunction? Well seemingly pretty much the same shit different day story of the SotA community and this blog; Favouritism and unequal opportunity. There is one special inbred place in particular where this stems from, the Avatars’ Kentucky, for whom which I have designed a new logo:
Yeah if you haven’t guessed by now or are new campers on the PK block, then I’m actually talking about the Avatars’ Circle/Portal. But the inbreeding is certainly not limited to Violation and his siblings within, there are many, many cousins around and “nothin says lovin like touchin your cousin” does it Violation? Come on bro, don’t even try not to laugh because I’ve seen you on every hangout going totally fucking laugh happy crazy, and sometimes to a disrespectful level to others who are talking about shit that doesn’t even concern you. Way to get noticed, you should keep that shit in check yo.
Frequently, I digress… No there is plenty of blame to go around on the favouritism issue, that entire area Avatars’ Circle/Portal with cousins in the Scholars of Novia, SotA Wiki, Pax Lair, and Avatars’ Radio seem to suck the entire community dry. I’d like to see some new PKs and PKettes come in and shine. There are plenty of other people shining too, but aren’t being recognized, but again there is no space for most of them to fill as these awards keep going to the same people.
Literally! Almost everyone who got a Warrant already had an ONBE and nearly everyone who got an ONBE had a Warrant! I’m not positive who is going through and selecting these things, I doubt it is Lord British himself so whom ever is and if you are reading this you are not even scraping the barrel of the SotA community. Spend some more time out there because look, most of the people you just gave awards to have yet to actually produce assets based on their reward…
Two people come to mind who have actually benefited the Shroud of the Avatar GAME itself and thus for the community I can think of very readily are Amber Raine via Avatars Radio and Holt Ironfell via Poets Circle. We need to find others just like them, and get them working, forget about the little guys with websites which only tend to serve up regurgitated information and feed it back to the same community over and over and over.
DOO EEETTTT Portalarium!
Now, where is my fucking ONBE for making all you fuckers laugh?
That’s no Moon… That’s a Guild.
The Poets’ Circle. Put together by Holt Ironfell is seemingly an aggregate of creative talent of all kinds. Despite having some rather large and looming names behind them like the Space Bards, Ember Isolte, and Sharm with guest stars like Lord Baldrith and Amber Raine… I know very little about them! Memory takes me back to a time in a thread in a Shroud of the Avatar forum not so far away though, to when SotA Forum Junior Moderator and general all around ass clown Mystic was taking a shit on Lord Baldrith’s thread and some of Holt’s advice/statements about voice acting. Well, Lord Baldrith turned that around and smashed out Echos of the Caverns and Holt turned around and with the people in the Circle smashed out a very large number of songs for the SotA soundtrack. Like %99 of it? What did Mystic do? Well of course he persisted to bully people on the forum until finally he was forum PKd and shut up. I will take some credit for that, please applause.
I digress. Let us begin with some recent news about Poets then! As I had to do some research and I had a Blown Whistle in my inbox this morning containing some of the deleted data from the Poets’ new Competition thread. You can get the non-sanitized content which was removed by the Moderators by going to my Backup Page or by a direct download HERE.
Let us begin with some selections from Holt’s post itself on the Competition.
You will tell a tale of adventure, or of mayhem, filled with conflict and suspense. But you will do so in the voice of a Bard, telling the tale in your choice of location, and audience.
So the stories will be judged on two primary merits:
1) Is it a story of conflict and suspense we can’t put down?
2) Is your narrative voice, the Bard character who is telling this story, spellbinding?
It is hard to get me Membranes excited about ANYTHING other than PKing. I mean it is going to be pretty epic when I take my axes and slash Bowen’s in-game Avatar into a few thousand pieces. I wouldn’t say I was overly excited about any kind of writing though, yeah no shit and despite this here blog it ain’t really a thing this clown does, but the topic and criteria have been done well enough to even make me take notice.
Now here is the really interesting bit.
The stories shall be divided randomly and given anonymously to our Council of Masters. They will not know the authors names, only the story on its own merits. The involved Masters will then send their favourite to the Grandmaster Bard, who will make the final selections and decide on first, second and third place.
There we have it. Finally, a measure of impartiality in the Shroud of the Avatar community! But, I seem to remember Holt doing something similar with anonymity in the Poets’ Valentine day competition, but it was Valentine day… Fuck that, I didn’t pay attention lulz. Look, this isn’t %100 perfect as it isn’t %100 anonymous, but it is a step in the right direction and an example to follow and improve on for everyone. I assume there are two reasons why Holt has the final say. Look at the line at the top of the post “Mass Murdering Psychotic Jesters” – As I have mentioned before in the comments, Holt is an easily locatable published author and with references to psychotic jesters, he’s got to have the ability to judge this shit properly and well.
As for impartiality, how could this be better? Easily a 3rd party could get involved, a single person, which can be the submission point for stories. That person can anonymize the submissions. This does a few things. Nobody would be able to recuse Holt for one, everything he gets would be from a number which matches back to a name which is held by the 3rd party. The other great thing it would do is open the competition up to the rest of the Poets’ Circle guild and everyone affiliated with it! Maybe they wish to write too, I doubt the Council of Masters would be submitting their own stories to Holt with the current rules… That would be very bad. This suggestion is the way to get these competitions done where you wont have mothafuckas like me all over in your shit. Here are the prizes.
1st place – Narration by the Grandmaster Bard and custom music score that goes with the pace of the story. Find our music at http://poetscircle.net
2nd place – Narration by one of our Founders and Master Bards: Ember Isolte!
3rd place – Narration by another recent Master Bard who climbed the ranks from apprentice: Grand Duke Kailef!
All three stories will be presented on the Poets’ Circle showcase alongside many other great works, for all eternity, so long as the lore of bards touch the hearts of mortal men.
Those don’t really appeal to me, but then I mean they seem to be a measure better than the awards everyone else gives out. Why are they and why do I think that? Because it takes them a bit of personal time to spend reading your shitty stories by utilizing their own in-house talent with voice/music skills. So I’ll say this, the Circle does seem to know how to leverage the people within it. That leads me to my next line of thought.
fuck this paragraph shit, fuck it in the asshole with a big rubber dick!
The Scholars of Novia Vs Poets’ Circle, coming to a community near you? I fucking hope so it would give me material for weeks and I’d love to see a little Bard on Bard action, BOWWW WOWW CHICKA WOWW WOWW. Oh yeah. Also what about the other Round Table group which has popped up out of Stile’s Y2K website farm? I can easily see this competition being a pilot program for the Poets’ to test the waters in terms of the writing community, checking to see if it would be the right fit for them.
fuck this paragraph shit, fuck it in the asshole with a big rubber dick!
With the failed Scribes and Scholars effort, the blood is in the water and the sharks have some massive bloody hard-ons. I can predict the outcome of this with certainty at this point. How you ask? Check out this quote from Lord british:
fuck this paragraph shit, fuck it in the asshole with a big rubber dick!
“THE POETS’ CIRCLE […] IS TO ME THE GOLD STANDARD OF COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION AND CONNECTION BETWEEN A CROWDFUNDED/CROWDSOURCED PROJECT TEAM AND THE COMMUNITY ITSELF.”
– RICHARD GARRIOTT
If the Poets’ Circle guild wants take writing, it will, and it will have the backing of some pretty powerful motherfuckers. Just look at LB’s woody for them. If they don’t take up the reigns of the writing with the community, it will be because they think it is more trouble than it is worth. Right now to me, more trouble than it is worth really looks to be the case! To be perfectly honest, I hope the Poets pass on the writing so I can keep pounding on the Scholars 😛
fuck this paragraph shit, fuck it in the asshole with a big rubber dick!
Membrane – Savin the fuckin day, yeah!
Unknown Hero of the enslaved Scholars of Novia council.
Someone must have given the Scribes members something to think about, either internally or externally to their group. Both, Scribe Gabriel Nightshadow and Grand Master of Scribes Amber Raine, have left the Scholars of Novia council.
EDIT: According to a comment below, more than two have sought refuge away from the Scholars elsewhere.
“I am no longer a member of the Scholars of Novia. I resigned my position as Scribe on Oct. 7, 2014.”
“Also a few of the points that are seeing me leave the Scholars, I just needed to finish the contest, as I *always* finish my commitments, and tend to my responsibilities. Not because I have to, but because I want to.”
Amber has recently commented on this blog to correct some and set other records straight. See her comments here:
I have to thank Amber for her honesty here, it is no small thing. So too is not such a small thing, the bungle in the deployment of the writing group Scribes then after a reboot Scholars of Novia. The thing that gets me here is that they seem to have already gone through a very similar process, and by the looks of it it has gone quite successfully, with music. I am not a writer or a composer, first person to say it, but I think the process that they had already ironed out for music should have been a pretty decent template for writing!
I can only call out to the rest of the members in the Scribes of Novia and say, there you have it. You have two, and from what I can tell at least semi-talented, members of your community leave the Scholars! Follow in their footsteps, there are other pastures out there and they are fucking green!
Shroud of the Avatar community member Amberraine replied to my tweet on this article. Though later on it must have been taken down, which is a shame, because I like to see what people think rather than what someone else wants others to see.
Here are the tweets:
I AM THE BATMAN
So, the first tweet.
@aInsaneMembrane Seriously? There were 4 people on the set of voters. I did not award it myself. I was the one that needed to post the results
I get that, and pretty much assumed that 😉 Though, nobody can argue here that there is not a conflict of interest. You just simply can not have a group of insiders take control of something without being vetted by the community start handing out awards where the people you are “judging” are directly linked to yourselves.
Setting aside all of the money compensation bullshit which was going on after you guys came out of the woodwork, I believe this was the biggest issue everyone was worried about. Hell, just look around, why did Gabriel leave you guys? Why is there now this second community effort group, the Writers Round Table? The name alone which includes Round Table is a pretty big clue as to why it is fucking there lol. Equality, and I have to give them kudos for that!
The second tweet.
@aInsaneMembrane Lest we forget! I do not follow virtues, but thank you for the recognition and imput! it shall be taken into consideration
The Virtue discussion is one thing. If there are to be Virtues then there will be anti Virtues and yes you will follow them because Darkstarr will be all over them and you want to be all over him 😛 Anywayyyyy, I hope this sort of thing is taken into consideration. If Portalarium want to run a contest for the first seeded books in the game, then Portalarium can bloody very well fucking step up and judge the small amount entries that this contest produced!
If they wanted a group to simply be created to help others revise their work, then they should have done this exactly like the Round Table did. Sticking people they like without the proper credentials in places of influence is an amateur move, I suppose that is no surprise there, this entire community driven part of the game has had amateur written all over it since it fucking started.
Show us, who in the scribes is qualified enough and has a published work to stand in front of? I only know of two people involved in Shroud of the Avatar that do and they are no where near the Scribes/Scholars group.
RoyalSexy Photo From Paparazzi
In an obvious outcome that surprises absolutely no one on the Forums these days, Avatar’s Radio conceptualizer and First Scribe Amberraine has awarded the first place prize in the Scholars of Novia’s very first contest to… RoyalSexy, the Avatar’s Radio Manager…
Again on this I don’t really have to say much do I, it writes itself all the way back to FireLotus. We are already aware of her clear bias for friends of a female gender(Polygon Housing Article & Polygon Warns InsaneMembrane – Deletes Post), and the track record and patterned history being created by most of the groups she has been interacting with.
Given the history with this group, its disastrous false start, and no effort what so ever to develop its own image to that of something remotely fair I have this to say to the Scribes: Why don’t you go outside and play hide and go fuck yourselves.